Thursday, May 02, 2013

Breadth Of Opinion Writing About David Brooks

The only remarkable thing about this column by Andrew Sullivan is the dog therein that doesn't bark.  Specifically, you would never know by simply reading the content of Mr. Sullivan's post that Messers Chait and Coates columns are both pushbacks against David Brooks' noxious piffle (from Mr. Coates):
In response to David Brooks's column on how to write about politics, Jonathan Chait offers some ideas of his own. It probably won't surprise you that I like Chait's a little better.
This peculiar omission may be explained by the fact that, despite his regular-as-clockwork bitching about the Evil Beltway Media (Mr. Sullivan regularly takes a break from appearing on "Real Time" or MSNBC or in  Guardian or the New Yorker or on the cover of Newsweek or at a White House dinner the to remind his readers that he is Not One of Those People) Mr. Sullivan has never written a genuinely cross word directed in Mr. Brooks' direction.  

See, Mr. Brooks occupies the commanding heights of the same Conservative Public Intellectual mountain up which Mr. Sullivan has been scrambling his entire life.  And for all his edgy outsider talk, Mr. Sullivan doesn't take swings at people who can actually hurt him professionally.  As such, no matter how high Mr, Brooks piles his bullshit, the worst vocabulary Mr. Sullivan ever musters against Mr. Brooks' worst excesses are that Mr. Brooks must be confused.  Or forgetful. Or "poignant". Or dreaming.

Because Daddy isn't an abusive drunk.
Daddy is just very tired again.
Daddy just had a bad day at the office again.
Mommy made Daddy sad again.
Daddy is just angry at the mean people on the teevee again.

This is about as bad as it ever gets:
[David]'s in a tough spot, and I think he’s as good a columnist as there is out there. 
And this is pretty typical of Mr. Sullivan writing about "My friend David Brooks...":
Prescient and smart, as David often is...
From Andrew Sullivan:

Rules Of Opinion Writing

MAY 2 2013 @ 10:24AM
One of Chait’s:
Don’t debate straw men. If you’re arguing against an idea, you need to accurately describe the people who hold them. If at all possible, link to them and quote their argument. This is a discipline that forces opinion writers to prove that they’re debating an idea somebody actually holds. And quoting the subject forces them to show that somebody influential holds it — if the best example of the opposing view is a random blog comment, then you’re exposing the fact that you’re arguing against an idea nobody of any stature shares. This ought to be an easy and universal guideline, but in reality, it’s mostly flouted.
TNC seconds him:
This is not only for the benefit of people who read you, but for your own. To paraphrase Douglass, a writer is worked on by what she works on. If you spend your time raging at the weakest arguments, or your most hysterical opponents, expect your own intellect to suffer. The intellect is a muscle; it must be exercised. There are cases in which people of great influence say stupid things and thus must be taken on. (See Chait on George Will’s disgraceful lying about climate change.) But you should keep your feuds with Michelle Malkin to a minimum.

Which also demonstrates in passing that even when it comes to the rarefied subject of recognizing cogent criticism of David Brooks' noxious piffle, there is definitely a club.

And I am definitely not it :-)

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